We are using microorganisms that live in extreme environments to address fundamental processes in biology, in particular mechanisms underlying the diversity of microbial communities, their functioning, and they responses to environmental perturbation.
We are approaching these questions from two directions:
At the molecular level, we focus on adaptive mechanisms of extremophiles to environmental stresses. We are currently investigating the role of small non-coding RNA in the oxidative stress response using haloarchaea as model systems.
At the ecosystem level, we focus on the mechanisms that generate and maintain microbial diversity and how these processes affect ecosystem functioning at the dry limit for life. Our field sites include multiple deserts around the world and the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.
Our work funded by NSF, NASA and by the ARMY Research Office.